Book: Remarkable Birds

A new collection of illustrations celebrates the wonderful variety of birds around the world 

“Remarkable Birds” is a beautiful compendium of illustrations showcasing 60 of the world’s 10,000 bird species and our relationship with them. Scientist and naturist Mark Avery presents pictures from a wide range of books, prints and original drawings along with a treasure trove of bird related trivia and mythology.

Avery describes the remarkable talents of birds: from the skillful hunting of the Harpy Eagle, a rainforest predator of monkeys and sloths; the tiny Hummingbird that flies over 10,000-kilometre in an arduous winter migration; to the aggressive mating rituals of the male Cock-of-the-Rock from South America.

The book also serves as a memorial for those species lost to extinction; the iconic Dodo and flightless Giant Moas, hunted by the human colonists of New Zealand centuries ago, while highlighting the plight of species now under threat, such as the Calofornian Condor  – the world’s largest bird with its massive three-metre wingspan. These illustrations will give you a small taste of the book, we hope you enjoy.

african grey parrot
African Grey Parrot (Saverio Manetti,1967-76) King Henry VIII of England owned an African Grey Parrot, which would call to boatmen across the River Thames from Hampton Court. More than 36,000 African Grey Parrots were traded annually until recently when countries began banning the sale of wild birds.

Pelican (John James Audubon, The Birds of America, 1827-38) Pelicans nest in large colonies. They feed socially, with a line of pelicans working together to herd fish towards the shore while dipping their beaks into the water to form a living fishing net.
arctic tern
Arctic Tern (John James Audubon, The Birds of America, 1827-38) The Arctic Tern catches small fish such as sprats by diving headfirst into the sea, snatching its prey in its sharp beak.
peregrine falcon
Peregrine Falcon (Louis Agassiz Fuertes, Birds of America, 1940) Peregrines often nest on cliff ledges (increasingly, these days, on city buildings too). Their prey here is a Meadowlark.
guianan cock of the rock
Guinean Cock of the Rock (Francois LeVailliant, histoire naturelle des oiseaux de Paradis et des rolliers, Vol.1, 1806) Males use their brightly coloured plumage to compete for the attention of females.
birds of paradise
Birds of Paradise (Francis Willoughby, 1678) The first birds of paradise seen in Europe in the sixteenth century were in the form of prepared skins without feet or wings, in order to display their plumes to best effect. Scholars speculated that these birds floated in the air and never came to land.

Ruff (Chromolithograph by Archibald Thornburn, Thomas Littleton Powys Lilford, 1895-97) Male Ruffs vary considerably in the colour of their head tufts, wings, backs and ruffs, meaning that they can be recognised as individuals even by humans.
california condor
Californian Condor (John James Audubon, The Birds of America, 1827-38 ) California Condors have soared over the plains of North America for thousands of years searching for carrion. The mammoths on which they used to feed are now long gone, and the California Condor almost followed them to extinction.
Lear’s Macaw (Edward Lear, Illustrations of the family of psittacidae or parrots, 1832) This bird was named after Edward Lear, the 19th century English author who painted this bird from life in London Zoo in the late 1820s or early 1830s.

Remarkable Birds by Mark Avery is published by Thames & Hudson